Lady Gaga is on top of the world. She’s received several Oscar nominations for her role in A Star Is Born, she’s just begun a residency at Park MGM in Las Vegas, and she has countless hit albums. But, just a few years ago, she was actually bankrupt!

“I actually went bankrupt after the first extension of The Monster Ball,” she told the Financial Times, of her second worldwide concert tour, which ran from 2009 to 2011. “And it was funny because I didn’t know!”

“And I remember I called everybody and said, ‘Why is every­one saying I have no money? This is ridiculous, I have five No. 1 singles.’ And they said, ‘Well, you’re $3 million in debt.'”

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Gaga is, of course, doing just fine now, she made enough money to pull herself out of debt because of “the sheer quality and popularity” of her work, the FT reported. And now, she has more than turned it all around. In 2018, Gaga had already earned $50 million as of July, Forbes reports.

But, money has never been her motivation, she told FT, “The beauty for me about being an artist is that the dream will never die, because I’m not obsessed with material things and don’t care about the money and don’t care about the attention of the public, but only the love of my fans, so for me it’s about how much more devoted, how much better an artist can I become.”

In short, she said, “it’s honestly true that money means nothing to me.”

Gaga does appreciate having money when it comes to important expenses though — and that includes her concerts, she said, “The only big things I’ve purchased are my dad’s heart valve and a Rolls-Royce for my parents, for their anniversary. Other than that, I put everything in the show.”

For Gaga, money is a reward for her hard work, but it’s not the only or most important reward. Her success, and getting to share her art, is the greatest reward, and it’s such an important lesson we can all learn from.

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